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Author Archive | Barry Schiller

Barry Schiller: It’s time to re-assess that proposed train station bus hub

Do you remember that in 2014 Rhode Islanders approved a vaguely worded $35 million bus hub transit bond? However, at this point, with that much money at stake, I think our state should re-examine the need for the proposed Providence train station area bus hub.

A news report indicated no Boston area developers were interested in leveraging the voter-approved bond money for a public-private partnership in the train station area. I suspect state leaders support for the bus hub project was predicated on drawing that investment, and so maybe now they are less interested. Recall the hub was a Chafee administration initiative that Raimondo, RIDOT Director Alviti, RIPTA Board Chair Kezirian, etc. inherited so they may not be all that committed to implement it. Further, now that it has apparently been deemed too expensive to build over the railroad tracks, the alternative of taking some of the State House lawn has engendered opposition from historic interests and maybe the Capital Center Commission too. In addition there are concerns the roads in the area are already often congested and adding many more buses can make it worse.

However, downtown interests may still want to eliminate or reduce the buses (and the low income people it transports) in Kennedy Plaza and hope a train station bus hub will be an alternative. They seem to have the ear of the Mayor who never much seemed interested in bus transit. Unions and contractors will also tend to favor spending the money on a new bus hub, for the construction jobs.

Though needs of the homeless and downtown business owners are both important, they are secondary to the interests of taxpayers who approved the money for transportation. Bus and rail passengers have nothing to gain from building a new bus hub at the train station. The relatively few transferring to/from trains already have 5 bus lines (50, 55, 56, 57, and R) to connect them to Kennedy Plaza and the bus network, plus a place to wait indoors get information, access to bathrooms, even coffee, at an intermodal facility called the “train station.” We don’t need another building, or to add un-needed buses to the already congested area.

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Bike to Work Day – May 17, 2013

bikemonthThere are a lot of bicycle issues in Rhode Island including getting the shoulders of streets properly swept, providing more bike parking racks, finding funding to finish and connect various bike paths, identifying and signing appropriate bike routes, enforcing laws against dangerous driving, developing bike-share programs, and more generally creating a transportation culture that includes support and respect for bicycling. Progress is not easy on any of this.

One of the ways to help promote this agenda is the annual Bike to Work Day celebrations.

In Providence, this year Bike to Work Day festivities will be held in Burnside Park in Kennedy Plaza from 7am to 10am. If you can, stop by to call attention to, and to celebrate, this healthy, economic, environmentally friendly, and fun way to travel with fellow bicyclists and allies. There will be a free continental breakfast, vendors, bike related information and advocacy materials, and perhaps an announcement of a new bike initiative from Mayor Tavares who at last year’s event announced the formation of the Providence Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Check it out! Visit RIBike.org for updates. And don’t forget RIPTA’s bike racks can extend the range of travel.

This event is sponsored by the RI Bicycle Coalition.

Bike Newport is also celebrating the day in Newport, where Washington Square will welcome bicyclists from 6am to 9am. Later there will be a bike press conference at 3pm, a community ride at 4pm, and a mini-fair at 5pm. Visit BikeNewportri.org for more information.

Barry Schiller, a retired Rhode Island College math professor, is a long-time member of the State Planning Council’s Transportation Advisory Committee. He also was on the RIPTA Board of Directors 1995-1999.
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